National Work Life Week is an initiative from Working Families.org.uk, running from 7 – 11 October. It’s aimed at giving employers a chance to showcase how they provide work-life balance for staff.
The companies we work with already know just how useful flexibility is in the workplace, enabling them to secure and retain exceptional professional talent. Flexible workers are proven to be reliable, productive and highly motivated individuals. Plus flexibility at work is known to help employers reduce absenteeism and improve employee wellbeing across the board.
Different Sectors and the Quest for Flexibility
There are still many discussions across many sectors as to whether all jobs can be flexible. And sadly, we are still seeing companies putting a limited take on flexible working with some calling flexible working, ‘remote working’.
This is one element of flexibility, but it isn’t the only one. Home-based jobs are still few and far between, and for many employers (and employees), camaraderie and face-to-face contact is highly important.
Sarah Douglas, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s chief executive says that in the advertising industry, many are still finding presenteeism hard to relinquish.
“There’s a balance to be struck and I really am wrestling with this myself at the moment. Because I want to do what my people want – which is greater flexibility – but in a way that does not compromise on the core value of camaraderie and teamwork, which is so important not just to our culture but to our ability to develop ideas.”
For the HR sector, the same is true: flexible working isn’t moving up the agenda quickly enough. Just one in 10 (11%) junior HR jobs contained an option to work flexibly compared to 15% of HR manager and director jobs.
Deborah O’Sullivan, Ten2Two, says, there are so many ways employers can show they value their people by offering different types of flexibility. The trick is to not think about everyone wanting the same thing; flexibility means different things for different people. We see a variety of successful working patterns, often in one organisation, from 3 full working days, 5 shorter days every week or 9-day fortnights.
It seems that even with National Work Life Week upon us, many companies are still finding flexibility a sticking point. Even with the news that senior roles with flexibility have jumped in the past year alone, change is slow going.
On the one hand, The Times has reported that highly paid roles with flexible working options have trebled in four years, up to 16 per cent, from 9 per cent last year and 5 per cent in 2016. But on the other, HR Magazine leads with the line that just one in seven roles are advertised as flexible.
Good News About National Work Life Week
So what good news can we report in time for National Work Life Week? Well, here at flexible and part-time recruitment agency Ten2Two, we have seen a leap in men and young people seeking flexibility. It’s our view that once flexibility moves from being seen as a ‘mummy’ issue to an ‘everyone’ issue, change will happen.
We also know that as technology is better implemented across businesses, flexibility will become easier to achieve.
But ultimately, flexibility starts with a mindset. We work with many forward-thinking businesses who understand that work-life balance is crucial to business success and have the evidence to show it – see our Flexible & Proud Report.
Ten2Two want all businesses and managers to truly embrace agile working and reap the benefits for themselves.
If you’re an employer wondering just where all of this leaves your company culture, please do get in touch with us. More than just a recruitment agency, we offer flexible working consultancy and are more than happy to have a chat about how flexible working can enhance your business.